Center of Theology and Science
Welcome to the Center of Theology and Science
There is a growing interest in science-engaged theology (i.e., a constructive theological project which gives epistemic weight to the empirical sciences as a source of theological knowledge) as a respected discipline in the wider academic guild (represented by recent initiatives like 'New Visions in Science-Engaged Theology,' and the 'Book of Nature' project along with a host of other projects on the mind, and various universities like Edinburgh, Cambridge, St. Andrews, and Leeds). However, to date, there is no program or Center that is evangelical in nature that addresses these issues, which also aims the discussion toward 'being missional'.
The Center of Theology of Science at Missional University houses research projects, a journal, conferences, and seminars on evangelical natural theology, scientific theology, and a context invested in science-engaged theology set in a broad Intelligent Design framework in conversation with the Analytic Theology guild and with an explicit theistic orientation. While the discussions would open up to other schools of thought within the broad evangelical network, specifically, and beyond that, there would be an emphasis placed on or coming from Design research. The hope is that this Center would join forces with the Discovery Institute, Center for Science and Culture, but extend those discussions in ways that are roundly theological in nature and provide the promptings conducive to constructive contemporary evangelical theology of science (i.e., this is not to be seen as 'faith and science' or philosophical science programs, even though there is overlap).
Office of the Director of the Institute
Goals and Significance
Reconsidering Science and Religion
History reveals an often combative tone between science and religion. This is certainly true of a great portion of the 20th century with the dominance of logical positivism and the tendency to exclude any metaphysical systems that are not otherwise empirically verifiable (also see W.V. Quine’s “Two Dogma’s of Empiricism”). While it is arguable that the shadow of logical positivism remains, we see a shift in the later 20th century with an openness to metaphysics and theology, and particularly with a growing interest in a non-reductive physicalism program (i.e., the view that consciousness is not identical to physical particles in motion nor reducible to those particles in motion).
These developments have opened the door afresh to reconsider a host of traditional concepts, the role of design in scientific investigation, the immaterial mind, and God and the soul. In view of these positive developments, the Center will explore a variety of issues at the intersection of science, technology, natural theology, and an ontology of mental consciousness. In these ways, there will be an exploration in a variety of topics that underscore the mental reality of nature and the design implicit in it. Further, an investigation in “soul discourse” by exploring natural dualism (i.e., that we are soul-body compounds, and that I just am my mind/soul or the essential core is my mind/soul)—epistemic and metaphysical variations. There are recent attempts to show that souls are no longer necessary as explanations for what needs explaining concerning the human intellect and the human will along with other attempts to revisit soul-discussion—and the most productive attempts have flourished in the context of cognitive science with a consideration of biology, neuroscience, paleontology.
Relevance of Science-Engaged Theological Discussion
These general topics at the intersection of medicine, technology, and culture relevant to a broad evangelical Christian audience will be considered. More specifically, the aims of the Center will be to constructively interrogate and investigate these topics with science that pertain to an overarching natural theology and systematic theology. One might also use a recent name for it called science-engaged theology There are two goals that capture the interests of those at the Center.
Goal One: Moving Beyond "Science and Religion" Debates
The first goal is to move beyond ‘Science and Religion’ debates generally by stepping into more constructive theological space that captures the breadth of the Christian worldview at the intersection of these issues.
Goal Two: Critically Engage Christian Views of Creationism with a Focus on Intelligent Design
The second goal is to critically engage the predominant paradigms in Christian academia, which include evolutionary creationism, non-reductive physicalism, and methodological naturalism with deeper reflection on the nature of minds in creation, the role of design, and the fundamentality of the immaterial.
Center Research Focus
What does creation teach us about God in relation to his creatures?
First, what does nature or creation teach us, as evangelical Christians, about God in relation to his creatures (with a special focus on his human creatures; i.e., a theology of creation and contemporary natural theology)?
To this set of questions, projects, researchers, lecturers, and students will focus on developing a theology of creation or a natural theology that informs an evangelical view of the world. In doing this, investigations in to newer forms of natural theology (i.e., from ramified natural theology, to scientific theology) will be considered with a view to design and the mind.
How do the natural sciences inform Christian theology?
Second, how do the natural sciences inform Christian theology (i.e., science-engaged theology)?
To the second set of questions, projects, researchers, lectures, and students will focus on the natural sciences (e.g., cosmology, biology, astronomy, neuroscience, paleontology) and their import to evangelical theology.
How do the findings of these subjects inform our practice and mission as Christians?
To the third, the emphasis will focus both on the practical and missional implications of natural theology and science-engaged theology research. Particularly, how does a design and/or mental ontology frame the broader cultural discussions and how does it impact how we think and act toward the world around us. Specific attention will be given to everyday Christians in their evangelistic and missional work at home and work, but also to new vocational initiatives in light of the growing changes in industry.
Additional Research Questions
Other questions that will take up consideration will include a specific focus of the human person at the interface of science, medicine, and technology. Some of the questions will include the list below with a particular focus given to design and the mind.
- How should we approach the anthropos and its telos?
- Furthermore, how might we understand human 'selfhood' and 'identity'?
- What are the benefits and liabilities of an analytic scienceee-engaged theology approach?
- Analytic Theology and Christological scientific anthropology?
- What are the benefits and liabilities of a phenomenological approach to the anthropos?
- What is the distinctive contribution of philosophy of mind/personal ontology in contemporary science-engaged theological anthropology?
- What role does or should the sciences play in our theological constructions?
- What role do ecclesial, theological, or philosophical traditions play in our science-engaged theological construction?
- How might a scientifically informed view of minds impact our practical and missional life?
- How might a scientifically informed anthropology shape theologies and philosophies of 'public life'?